The Boredom of Peaceful Coexistence – an Interview with Ármin Langer

Portrait of Ármin Langer

Ármin Langer; Foto: Kat Kaufmann

As part of the series “New German Stories,” we will present the book Ein Jude in Neukölln. Mein Weg zum Miteinander der Religionen (A Jew in Neukölln. My path to the coexistence of religions) by Ármin Langer on 19 October 2016. The author, who will be our guest on this evening, will talk about his life as a Jewish activist and his experiences as coordinator of the Berlin Salaam-Shalom initiative that sets an example of peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence.

We asked Ármin Langer three questions:

Alina Gromova: Ármin, you decided at the age of 21 years to become a rabbi even though you are from a secular family. What led you to this decision back then?

Ármin Langer: Already as a child I was open to religion, but this feeling found no frame until I was 20.  continue reading

“If I were a rich mouse …”

— the Hanukkah Message?

The hanukkah candelarium described in the text on a table together with presents, a lamp and a dreidel

Mice with a vice
Photo: CC-BY Michal Friedlander

I have been using the same Hanukkah lamp for nearly 20 years. I find it aesthetically-challenging and totally impractical: it is difficult to clean and the candles fall out. Yet I persist in using it because it provokes me to think. When I put the illuminated, figurative lamp on the windowsill to publicly “proclaim the Hanukkah miracle of light,” the same three questions always resurface in my mind: “Who designed this lamp?,” “What were they thinking?,” and, “Are Mickey and Minnie Mouse actually Jewish?”  continue reading

In the Sleeping Car with Ten Hand-puppets and a Travel Hanukkah Candelabrum

A puppet in a blue shirt with the star of David, in front of a crate of Berliner hotcakes with a speech bubble, “Oooh, my oh my! Hotcakes for free!!! Hahahaaaa! Happy Hanukkaaaah!”

One of the hand puppets from Shlomit Tulgan’s bubales family saying “Oooh, my oh my! Hotcakes for free!!!”
CC-BY Shlomit Tulgan

I was asked recently if I could write something about how I celebrate Hanukkah in my own circle of family and friends. It occurred to me that the last time I spent Hanukkah with friends or with my parents was quite awhile back. I rummaged around through old photos until I found a picture of me with my father in 1988, lighting our Hanukkah candelabrum: we had just applied for political asylum in West Berlin and were allowed to stay with friends, so we didn’t have to remain longer in refugee quarters. For me back then, Hanukkah was a personal, family thing.  continue reading